Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 

Web 2.0 & commercial ePortfolios

On June 1, Campus Computing published another article on ePortfolios and Web 2.0, entitled "Unleashing the Power of Web 2.0," which highlighted some of the work of Washington State University and their use of SharePoint. It also discussed the continuum of ePortfolios as Personal Learning Environments (PLE--on the learner-centered end), and ePortfolios as Assessment Management Systems (AMS--on the institution-centered end). The article discussed the Evolution of Web 2.0 and the ePortfolio, and reported on discussions with three ePortfolio vendors (Digication, Angel Learning, and Desire2Learn) and the adaptations that they are making to their commercial systems in response to the Web 2.0 technologies. One of the ironies of this discussion is that free Web 2.0 technologies could be a threat to some of the commercial tools, since students could replicate ePortfolio/PLE functions of many of the commercial tools using these Web 2.0 tools. Accumulating institutional accountability data (AMS) is the real value added of many of the other commercial tools not mentioned in the article. The real value of Web 2.0 tools is for the students to create an ePortfolio that they can own and modify across the lifespan, gaining valuable lifelong learning skills that they can use once they leave higher education. That is the value of the WSU model using SharePoint, and other places using other types of social software for ePortfolios (blogs, wikis, Google tools, etc.)

The author of this Campus Technology article also published an earlier article, "ePortfolios Meet Social Software" which discusses some of the "stickiness" issues with ePortfolios, and the interest in the "own-it-for-life model" of implementation.

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Comments:
Thanks for this Helen,

As you know, the use of Web 2.0 tools is an integral part of the University of Calgary approach ... we trust students will leave our program with ICT embedded as an important part of how they work ... commercial product rest stripping this important away ...

Susan
 
Helen, great post. We (www.nixty.com) are actually working on a free web 2.0 eportfolio. We think there is a real need for this, particularly when you think about the move towards lifelong learning. I'll shoot you an email when it is ready. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
 
I agree that "[t]he real value of Web 2.0 tools is for the students to create an ePortfolio that they can own and modify across the lifespan". This is already easily accomplished simply by uploading work and linking to various pieces from one central site, which is your e-portfolio. Why complicate things?
I really like your distinction between Assessment Management Systems and Personal Learning Environments. PLEs are for student learning but so often they are buried in AMSs, for the benefit of institutional control, not the student.
 
Hello Helen,
I'm Zee from The Sultan Idris University of Education in Malaysia. I'm with the Faculty of Science and Technology, also currently the director for The Center for Technology and Multimedia. I am also teaching science education courses (Theories, strategies and Practice in science education)

E-portfolio is relatively new to me. I wish to introduce it to my Masters students this coming semester (commencing Mid December).

What are the challenges in implementing ePortfolios? Some suggestions as to how I could manage would be much appreciated.
 
ePortfolios are in infancy, in Australia so your comments are so relevant to us. The current debate is about institutional hosting (and even ownership of student content). The connection with lifelong learning is often lost I think. Did find one free service based on Mahara called foliospaces. I don't think it is possible to export from Mahara at the moment but it is on their urgent to do list which would be good for students leaving an institutional host.

Jon
 
I agree that an important feature of an ePortfolio system is the capability to transfer the data into another ePortfolio system. Most of the commercial systems allow exporting a portfolio to an HTML archive, but not to import an ePortfolio into another system. In Europe, they call that "interoperability" and it is a major challenge. CETIS in the UK has been working of technology specifications for ePortfolios, and their latest, LEAP2 (http://wiki.cetis.ac.uk/LEAP2A_specification ) focuses on using the Atom specification used by blogs, where it has been relatively easy to transfer content from one blog to the next. I think that will be the post promising direction to follow.
 
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